There is so much focus out there on the magic of new relationships, and it is often this part of a relationship we mourn the most when we have been with someone for a while.
It is the butterflies when you see their name flash up on your phone, the nerves when you are meeting for a date, when you are polite to each other all the time, and find everything they do cute, funny, or sexy. You don’t know about their little niggling habits yet. That they leave their socks on the floor at the end of every day, or the toilet seat up every time they go to the toilet.
You haven’t seen them on a bad day, when they are snappy and grumpy. Instead, everything is new, it is exciting. It is a time of calculated moves, when you don’t want to seem too keen, but you also just can’t wait to see or speak to them again.
Each minute is cherished, it’s special, it’s momentous, and there are so many milestones to achieve: the first date, the first anniversary, the first valentine’s day.
And the sex. It is thrilling and exciting. You are just exploring each other, what you like, what you don’t, and finding out the more intimate details. It’s all sexy underwear and effort, rather than trying to arrange a time to squeeze in a love-making session in-between household duties.
Once you have been together for a while, it all becomes so different. Yet there are simple things you can do to keep the spark alive and increase intimacy.
Here are some top tips for increasing intimacy in a long term relationship:
Break the routine
If you find yourselves looking back at your sex life and wondering where it all went wrong, it’s important to get that sorted asap. Just because you have been together for a while, it doesn’t mean your sex life needs to go stagnant.
Remind yourself of the carefree days when you would have leisurely sex in the afternoon just for the thrill of it, or when you were willing to try new things.
Sit down together and ask if there is anything you would like to try in the bedroom, or how you are both feeling about your sex life. It is important to talk and get these things out in the open.
Couples tend to fall in a trap when they have been together for a while only to have sex on certain days and often don’t make time for it if they are too tired or too busy. Stop making excuses and instead bring back the spark you used to have. You will both feel better and will have a stronger connection also.
Make time for each other
When you have been together for a while – and particularly if you live together – you may see each other every day, but not properly notice each other. You have probably reached the point where you are so comfortable doing nothing that sometimes you forget how important it is to actually do something together. To reconnect, take a step back from mobile phones and do even the simplest of things together. From looking for new eye glasses where you can sit and view website options together, to sitting around and just talking about nothing. Spend time every day, even if it is only half an hour while you are eating dinner, turn off the TV, or anything else that could distract you and just give each other your utmost, undivided attention. Ask how their day has been and regale yours in return. By making this bit of time for each other, you will find you soon look forward to it and reconnect in a way you mightn’t have done for a long time.
Schedule regular date nights
In a time when we are constantly busy, whether going to work, working extra hours, meeting friends, or studying, life can get in the way.
Schedule a day a week or every month dedicated to a date night and make sure you always stick to it. It doesn’t have to be anything special or extravagant; it could be as simple as getting a takeout and watching your favourite film on TV.
You could take it in turns to plan something as a surprise or decide together, whichever you choose, you will find it soon becoming the highlight of your schedule.
Dating is one of the things people most of us miss about first being in a relationship, where you get dressed up and make an effort for one another, heading out for dinner or doing something special. Not only do you feel better about yourself, but the effort your partner has put in is also something you will appreciate as well. You will get a chance to spend quality time together and have fun.
Make a rule to not talk about money woes or household chores and instead focus on positive topics that will take you away from life worries and allow you to have a great time.
We all remember when we first started going out with our other half and how special those kisses used to be. How you couldn’t keep your hands off one another and any minute spent not kissing, was quite frankly a moment wasted.
Studies tell us that kissing releases dopamine, oxytocin and other feel-good neurochemicals, which help us feel connected with our partners. Fast forward to a few years later, and it’s a quick peck before you go to work, or you just kiss when it is leading to sex.
Make time to kiss at other times too. There is an idea some couples do to remind them to kiss and just enjoy it, and that is every time you do something such as put the kettle on, or when there are only a couple of minutes left on the oven timer, to just kiss for this time.
To abandon everything around you and just enjoy each other. Kissing is important to keep that spark, and you will find the more you do it, the more you will want to.
When you are in a long term relationship, it can be easy to forget about surprising your other half. In the beginning, it was all about flowers or surprise presents, but as your relationship goes on, these can soon be whittled down to birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries.
Never underestimate the power of a surprise for showing just how much your partner means to you. It could be something such as a surprise booking at their favourite restaurant, to something as simple as a bottle of wine or their favourite chocolates on an evening.
If you know they have had a tough day at work, why not run them a bubble bath surrounded by candles for when they get in? By making these small gestures, they will see how much you care and be reminded just why they fell for you in the first place.
Don’t take each other for granted
Taking your partner for granted can be all too easy when you are super comfortable with them.
The meal that is lovingly cooked for you every night or your washing that is done without fail, be sure to say thank you and show them how much it means that they care for you. Send them messages to tell them how much you love them, or how attractive you find them. You may think they know these things without you having to say them, but it will always mean a lot to the other person to hear it.
It can be all too easy to criticise when they do something wrong or make a mess, but be sure to compliment or thank them when they do something right. Even bringing you a cup of coffee to bed in the morning deserves a thank you, plus the more grateful you are, the more they are likely to feel good about it and continue to do it in the future.
These are just a few top tips to increase intimacy in a long term relationship. Remember, you chose your partner for a reason, and it’s essential to keep that in mind the next time you find yourself getting cross that they brought home the wrong type of milk from the supermarket or didn’t say quite the right thing about your new outfit.
It’s important to cut each other some slack and appreciate all the good things you have with each other. You are lucky to be in a long-term relationship with someone you can share your life with and are comfortable enough to show your true colours.
I believe the beginning part of a relationship is great, but it’s what comes after that is so much better.
Love, Sara x
If you need more help and guidance, Sara Tang is a certified sex coach that can give you the tools to increase intimacy in a long term relationship. Find out more about working with Sara Tang here.